Madigan proposes monitoring cameras in nursing homes

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Families concerned about the treatment their elderly relatives receive in nursing homes could be allowed to monitor their loved ones by video camera, from afar, under a proposed law unveiled Monday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“This will … ensure that our loved ones are being taken care of,” Madigan told reporters during news conference at the Thompson Center in Chicago. “It will … give us peace of mind in circumstances wherewe are not able to go to the nursing facilityas frequently as we want.”

She added: “I’m not advocating for turning anyone’s personal life into a reality show.”

The proposed law, if approved by lawmakers, would explicitly allow families to install video cameras or audio recording devices in their relative’s nursing home room.

Those who would be monitored would first have to give their consent, Madigan said. The same goes for any roommates, who would also have to consent to being recorded.

Madigan said complaints of elder abuse in nursing homes spurred her to push the proposal this coming legislative session. A bill will be sponsored by Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, who flanked Madigan at the news conference Monday.

Madigan acknowledged there is currently no law banning the use of cameras to monitor the elderly or infirmed. But some nursing homes may be resistant, if not downright opposed, to the practice, she said.

If approved, Illinois would join Washington state, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Maryland, which have all passed similar laws.

In a statement, Health Care Council of Illinois, which lobbies on behalf of the nursing home industry, did not indicate whether the group was for or against the proposal.

“We look forward to working with our elected officials in reviewing data on this issue and making sure our residents are protected,” Pat Comstock, the executive director of the group, was quoted as saying. “The safety of all our residents is of the highest priority.” Comstock added that privacy of residents is also a serious concern.

Cameras have become a big part of every day life, Madigan said. Installing monitoring cameras in nursing homes is much of the same.

“You go into a bar, you go into a restaurant, you get on the train, you’re in the grocery store, you’re in the pharmacy — everywhere you are right now there is a camera,” Madigan said.

And while some may reflexively oppose the idea, in the event allegations of elder abuse are leveled, a video recording could quickly clear up what exactly happened, Madigan said. Under the proposal, video and audio footage could be used in court.

“If something has gone wrong then we can hold that person responsible,” Madigansaid.

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